French voters dealt Nicolas Sarkozy another blow today in the second round of local balloting. The maverick president's right-wing UMP party lost mayorships in Strasbourg and Reims to opposition socialists, who also gained Toulouse and held on to power bases in Paris and Lyon, the BBC reports. UMP retained control of Marseilles.
The elections concerned local issues like parks, but that voters treated it as a referendum, with 7.5% unemployment and Sarkozy's marital life key problems. Sarkozy prepared himself for defeat, saying he would “take into account” what voters expressed. But the Socialist Party head had more specific advice: “Before reshuffling his government, he should reshuffle himself, the way he behaves and does things.”